LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Now that pot is fully legalized in California, more of the industry is being regulated, which is beneficial for buyers but an extra cost for sellers.
Chemical contaminants like pesticides and fungicides in cannabis are only now being tested in state-licensed labs.
"We went from being highly unregulated to very regulated in a very short amount of time," said Dr. Schuwayta Call. "So what we are testing for right now, we weren't testing for a few years ago."
At Cannalysis lab in Santa Ana, scientists and lab technicians test for 66 types of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides.
Licensed marijuana distributors are required by law to have their cannabis rigorously tested. Often times, whole crops fail to pass state regulation and have to be destroyed.
Call says she isn't surprised that the state recently shut down one lab accused of intentionally ignoring pesticides in order to allow tainted cannabis to be sold in dispensaries. In the high-stakes marijuana market, she says, some unscrupulous producers are eager to pay for favorable lab results. Some labs may even sweeten results to get more business.
But for Call, the bigger issue is that the majority of dispensaries are unlicensed and unregulated.
"We make a big deal about high fructose corn syrup and whether something is gluten-free. I think it's time to start paying attention to what's in their cannabis," she said.
Users of contaminated pot complain of headaches and nausea, among other symptoms.
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